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Posts Tagged: The Guardian

Lit Fic Is Just Another Genre

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Jane Austen wrote for money. She also made readers laugh. So why are her books considered literature rather than genre fiction? Clever marketing, claims Elizabeth Edmondson over at the Guardian. Despite many attempts to define “literary fiction” as something dry and bland, writers have historically written to entertain (and to sell their words)—the importance of categorization comes much later:

Of course, the fact that lit crit types make some absurd claims for lit fic doesn’t mean writers within this category don’t write good books.

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Pink Books and Blue Books

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Across the pond, the Let Books Be Books campaign is circulating a petition calling on publishers of children’s books to stop labeling books according to gender and to “allow children to choose freely what kinds of stories and activity books interest them.” Prominent British authors and publishers have come out in support of the campaign—Phillip Pullman, author of the His Dark Materials fantasy trilogy, says “I’m against anything, from age-ranging to pinking and blueing, whose effect is to shut the door in the face of children who might enjoy coming in.”

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Mary Shelley’s Correspondence Discovered!

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Nora Crook, in perhaps the most exciting click ever to happen on the internet, made the discovery of a lifetime when she came across previously unpublished correspondence from the late Frankenstein author Mary Shelley. The article at The Guardian describes several letters written by Shelley shortly before her death.

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Mendokusai (I Can’t Be Bothered)

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Young people who aren’t interested in marriage or children, sure, but young people who aren’t interested in sex?

According to this article in the Guardian, that’s increasingly the case in Japan, where a government survey “found that 45% of women aged 16-24 ‘were not interested in or despised sexual contact’” and “an astonishing 90% of young women believe that staying single is ‘preferable to what they imagine marriage to be like.’”

Read the whole thing for more on a dominatrix turned relationship counselor, adult-diaper sales vs.

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Our Future Depends On Reading!

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“Well-meaning adults can easily destroy a child’s love of reading: stop them reading what they enjoy, or give them worthy-but-dull books that you like, the 21st-century equivalents of Victorian “improving” literature. You’ll wind up with a generation convinced that reading is uncool and worse, unpleasant.”

Neil Gaiman offers strong words at The Guardian on why libraries, reading, and daydreaming is vital to our future.

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Feminist Victories You Haven’t Heard About

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In a nation as solipsistic as the US, we don’t hear much about politics in other countries. This is doubly true when it comes to woman-centered movements, and triply true when those movements are in Africa.

In an opinion piece for the Guardian, Minna Salami talks about feminist success stories the Western world has largely ignored:

What would have once sounded like a far-fetched feminist fantasy – namely women forming the majority of a parliament – is a reality in one country in the world: Rwanda.

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Fanfiction Gathers Force

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Ever since Fifty Shades of Grey, originally written with characters from Twilight as its protagonists, struck gold, the mainstream publishing world has had to take a closer look at fanfiction.

In the (increasingly unlikely) event you’re unfamiliar with the world of fanfiction, Ewan Morrison breaks it down for you at the Guardian, from the Gospels to 1913′s Old Friends and New Fancies – an Imaginary Sequel to the Novels of Jane Austen to Star Trek/Battlestar Galactica crossover slashfic.

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Writing and Drinking and Writing about Drinking

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Alcohol and authors. It’s a subject so old and rich and fraught you could write a book on it—which is exactly what Olivia Laing did.

That book is called The Trip to Echo Spring: Why Writers Drink, and Blake Morrison’s review of it in the Guardian is itself a great essay on the subject, covering writers’ love and loathing of liquor in real life and on the page.

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Posthumous Oversharing from F. Scott Fitzgerald

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“Fell in love on the 7th … Quarrel. Silence. Zelda sick … Discovery that Zelda’s class voted her prettiest & most attractive.”

You can’t follow F. Scott Fitzgerald on Twitter, but if you want to know what his tweets might have looked like, check out his handwritten ledger, recently made available online by the University of South Carolina.

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Boston Marathon Roundup

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If you’re looking for a token of solace after the Boston marathon bombings, please check out Roxane Gay’s words if you haven’t already. And Thomas Page McBee reflects on ways to help when feeling helpless.

At the Guardian, Rumpus columnist Steve Almond comments on the histrionic attitude the media has taken on in the wake of the explosions, and wonders if “events such as Monday’s bombing can somehow morally enlarge us as a nation, can help us imagine the suffering of other people and our own duty to those people – wherever they happen to live.”

Boston.com’s Metro Desk eulogizes Martin William Richard, the 8-year old who was killed.

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“A New World of Silence and Control”

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What does it sound like when someone who grew up without music becomes a musician?

For British songstress Phildel, who was raised in an abusive home where she was forbidden to listen to music, that hypothetical question is a reality—and its answer is “It would sound pretty cool, actually.”

This Guardian profile goes into more detail about her intensely weird upbringing and the otherworldly music she managed to pry from it.

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Biting the Hand That Stamps Your Library Book

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Last week, British children’s author Terry Deary (famous for his Horrible Histories series) declared that public libraries are unnecessary relics of a past age; they cheat authors of their rightful earnings and “are doing nothing for the book industry.”

A few days later, Julia Donaldson, another British children’s author, fired back:

…libraries are the places where our readers and book-buyers are created.

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Literature’s Most Famous Party Hosts

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Some writers are almost as famous for their raucous boozing as they are for their prose. You could fill a book with tales of literary parties—in fact, professional party planner Suzette Field did just that.

The book is called A Curious Invitation: The Forty Greatest Parties in Literature, and she’s expounded on a few of those parties in an article for the Guardian.

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The Cleverest Boy in the World

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There are many things about legendary comic-book writer Alan Moore that are difficult to understand: why he’s turned down so much of the money from film adaptations of graphic novels like Watchmen and V for Vendetta, why he still lives in rundown old Northampton, why he keeps his beard like that.

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“No good writer ever merely cheered us up”

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Howard Jacobson writes on “bad boys’ books,” making a case for depressing and difficult literature.

He argues that all good books improve the character of the reader, even those that cast ugly characters or that offer the reader only the barest sense of uplift and resolution at the end:

“We read to extend our sympathies, to see ourselves in others and others in ourselves, to educate our imaginations, to find liberation from the prison of the self, to be made whole where we are broken, to be reconciled to the absurdity of existence, in short to be redeemed from flesh, the ego and despair…Reading literature remains a civilising activity, no matter that it’s literature in which people do and say abominable things and the author curses like the very devil.

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Bookshelf Bonanza

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Peter Knox discusses how bookshelves provide a glimpse into an individual’s personality for The GuardianKnox values these book organizers for a myriad of reasons, one of which being that a person’s book display communicates their tastes across all boards:

“Your bookshelf is an intimate physical representation of your accomplishments (titles as trophies earned), aspirations (that ever growing to-read pile), associations (that book your boss gave to each employee), personal development (those self-help titles that urged you to talk to strangers), guilty pleasures (50 shades of beach reads), escapes (sci-fi to some, travelogues to others), memories (meeting that author, visiting that indie shop on vacation), interests (the bigger the Star Wars fan, the more Star Wars books) and countless other tells that another reader would unconsciously and immediately compare against their own shelf.”

Knox has taken his fascination a step further by starting Share Your Shelf, a one-stop-Tumblr for your digital bookshelf viewings.

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China Miéville: the future of the novel

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Last week, in the keynote speech at the 2012 Edinburgh World Writers’ Conference, China Miéville spoke about the novel’s many possible futures in cultural, political and digital terms – and concluded with a demand for state-supported salaries for writers:

“So an unresentful sense of writers as people among people, and a fidelity to literature, require political and economic transformation.

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A History of Mars Exploration

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Last night, NASA’s Curiosity rover landed on the surface of Mars, beginning its year long exploration of the planet.

The Guardian has compiled a short history of Mars musing, which highlights scientists’ fascination with the planet. Since their first sightings in the 17th century, scientists argued about the planet’s capability for sustaining life:

“Lowell eventually ‘saw’ and published maps of not only canals but also vastly thick lines of cultivated vegetation, oases and cities, standing out against ‘one vast Sahara’.

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‘WRITE OR DIE’ AND OTHER SAGE WORDS OF ADVICE

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The Guardian profiles a series of computer applications meant to motivate authors through the doldrums of writer’s block.

‘Write or Die’ (whose slightly menacing slogan is “putting the ‘Prod’ back in Productivity”) deletes your writing if you pause for more than forty-five seconds, while apps like ‘Freedom’ effectively shut down modes of procrastination, prohibiting you from viewing sites of refuge like Twitter and Facebook.

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Straw Man

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“Just as women don’t hate Samantha Brick for being beautiful, and feminism hasn’t ruined anyone’s chances to be married, and no one thinks mothers don’t work, and there is no argument between working and stay-at-home mothers, there is no contradiction between the sexual imagination of some and sexual politics for all.”

At The Guardian, Hadley Freeman skewers the strategy–at play in both politics and media–that seeks to inspire in-fighting amongst women thereby distracting from actual policies or content.

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